Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Why Do People Say 'Sick As a Dog?'

You ever wondered that? I have. And as a former dog owner, of several magnificent dogs and even of a couple of terrific cats I have to confess...they hardly ever got sick. We had a few dogs in our lives...and here's a few. I left some out, simply because there is just no need, let's stick with the Hall of Fame.

There was this one, who I call 'Name Unknown', cause I have NO Idea if that was even our dog...

Then of course Scoshee, a peekaneese I think, he was mainly Pat's dog.

Raven, a runt of the litter from a litter of Labs, LONG before Baltimore even had a football team back in town.

Then came Paisley, the first dog that I ever took care of on my own, what a beauty she was.

Then Explodey, the first cat I ever cared for on my own.

And then Whopper, a dog my Mom picked up years later right around the taking of this photo and nearing the end of the marriage to Pat Lilly. That's me holding my niece.

And then last but not least, Parker...good old hyper-spastic separation-anxiety ridden PArker. She was Jen's baby before Jen had babies.

But that expression...sick as a dogs always get sick?

I mean, yeah sure, I'd often come home to some dog barf that had maybe an entire Summer Sausage (you know, the kind you get in those Christmas gift baskets that you really don't want but you accept graciously anyway, knowing goddamn well you won't eat half the things in there and most of it is getting tossed).

So your dog has KIND OF done you a favor, you're not mad, you just have some nasty clean-up ahead, cause he consumed wrappings and all and maybe with some of the surrounding cheeses, but I don't consider that sick, that's just typical canine lack of self-control whenever their master leaves yummy delicious people food within their range.

But sick as a dog? Where did the phrase come from? OK, so I looked around, and I actually am not far off it seems. I liked this answer the best, so I am going with it.

Didn't say who the actual 'Author' was, just gave a screen name of 'Spamgirl'. I'm assuming that refers to the type of junk mail we receive and not the mystery meat in a can. Though I think she lifted it from someone else sited called Word Detective, and I am lifting it here, so we have a Triliftology thing going on.

Dear Word Detective: I was recently sick as a dog, and in my fevered state I began to wonder why we use that phrase. I know that "dog" has long been used in the sense of "bad" ("dog days," "dog tired," etc.), but when did people start saying "sick as a dog" and just why is dog used in this negative sense? I thought dogs were man's best friend. I thought you might be able to shed (ha ha) some light on this issue. -- Lisa Krause, Huntington, MA.

Ha ha indeed. I take it you don't live in a house with two dogs, three cats and enough pet fur flotsam come spring to knit a whole new poodle. And I'll bet you never had to call a computer service to replace your CD-ROM drive because it was clogged with excess cat pelt. What genius designed computers to be big stationary vacuum cleaners, anyway? Something tells me Michael Dell owns goldfish.

Given their devotion to us, you're right, dogs have gotten a bad press. "Dogs of war," "going to the dogs," "hair of the dog that bit you," "dog in the manger" and the like are hardly compliments to our canine pals. ("Dog days," however, is not especially negative, as it referred originally to the ascendancy of Sirius, the "Dog Star," during the hottest days of summer.)

"Sick as a dog," which means "extremely sick" and dates back to at least the 17th century, is also not so much negative as it is simply descriptive. Anyone who knows dogs knows that while they can and often will eat absolutely anything, on those occasions when their diet disagrees with them the results can be quite dramatic. And while Americans may consider themselves "sick" when they have a bad cold, in Britain that would be called "feeling ill." "Being sick" in Britain usually means "to vomit."

So to really appreciate the original sense of "sick as a dog," imagine yourself seated in the parlor having tea with the Vicar on a lovely Sunday afternoon, when Fido staggers in from a meal of sun-dried woodchuck and expresses his unease all over your heirloom oriental carpet. It's actually rather amazing that goldfish aren't more popular.

Don't you just love coming here to learn new fun facts with your Uncle Ken?

Anyway, I'm sick as a fuckin' dog.

After I wrote Monday's post, within a half an hour things radically changed for me. I thought I had recovered 100% from being sick. Not by a damn sight. Suddenly my neck was looking like Edgar's in Men in Black and my head was pounding. Had mucho problems sleeping that night. Next day, back to the doc.

I figured maybe since Allergy Season hit right when this viral thing hit me that MAYBE I was getting double whammied. I've also begun to seriously question the air quality inside our home (more on that down the road). But in any case, he decides to run another strep test. Remember he last one came up negative.

This one did not. In fact, it came back positive so fast he had no doubt whatsoever. SO Antibiotics. Though Jen became concerned today when I called her; lying on the living room floor, fever back up in the 103 range, and I could barely speak (hey maybe she thought I was flirting). I had nearly passed out. I do that when I get severe nausea.

See, I am not 100% sure I have ever had true Strep as an adult. Because this is all new territory. There is no mucus coming out of my nose like there was for the last two weeks. It will only go inward. When it does, it goes down into my upper throat, gets caught up in my junk, and I start to have to gag out the mucus. Not cough cause the throat is so raw my body resists starts the gag reflex, until some (sorry, you can skip this part) some thick bloody, snotty, oyster looking thing comes shooting out of mouth into whatever I am spitting it into.

I know...hey you think I'M not horrified by that? Get in line. And I used to LOVE oysters.

So I'm lying on my back looking up at the ceiling fan, wondering if I am going to pass out, thinking about my life, my kids, all the things that just keep getting so messed up. I wonder if this house, and it's problems, are contributing to the respiratory issues we ALL seem to be having. And don't think for a second that I haven't sat there and wondered if something in the air of this house might be responsible for what is essentially attacking my mother. Who knows? Maybe the builders cut SO many corners in the house there are things I don't even know about yet just waiting to throw me yet another curve-ball that hits the dirt and goes right up into my nuts.

Won't matter of last week, Maronda Homes started bankruptcy proceedings...I doubt we are going to be about to go after them for any of this, and we are looking at a significant amount of work. I'll save that for another topic, but needless to say, it is always on my mind, this house and what it might have done to Bennett, or my mom, or me, because of shortcuts in workmanship.

Delirium can be a very strange and dangerous time to have thoughts like this.

I sounded very weird on the phone when I spoke to her, and she was getting concerned, so she, in a sort of 'GIVE MY DAUGHTER THE SHOT!!!' moment called my doctor to request that I given an oral steroid, to reduce the swelling in my tonsils and neck glads immediately, because I simply do not have an adequate space there to get enough oxygen in, and at night it closes up and wakes me up. If the steroids don't reduce the swelling, oh crap I'd have to go IN. And the LAST place you want to be when you are sick is in the Hospital.

Gettin' no sleep. Which helps NOT in recovering.

Anyway...tomorrow I want to talk about Carter and his Easter. And some other things. Some good stuff. Meanwhile, I'm going to go lay down.



  1. " It will only go inward. When it does, it goes down into my upper throat, gets caught up in my junk, and I start to have to gag out the mucus" I thought "junk" was commonly used in American slang as denoting male genitalia, so, um yes to quote the great Val Kilmer, I think I just threw up a little in my mouth. Which should do you proud.
    By the way, 'sick as a dog' means to me to be sick but there's nothing to be done about it, since by the time you can actually see that a dog is sick it is so far along that you better just pray.

  2. The oral steroids WILL bring the swelling down. No doubt. Yeah -- sleep will help (not to mention the antibiotics), but Strep SUCKS and you all my sympathy.

    Take care!

  3. Well,hoping that the meds work quickly and a turn around happens soon.

    Almost 3 thousand miles away,and I am feeling much the same.And ticked about it.Non-stop since the beginning of March for us all.Just texted my husband and can I say,I have only, in 24 years of marriage,had him come home maybe twice because I can't handle the load.I am inches away from that today.Hanging on by my finger tips here in LA.

  4. Jeez -- I hope you feel better soon. That's so distressing.

  5. Well, I've been on the Antibiotic for around 24 hours. Temperature 20 minutes ago was 103.7 This does not bode well. Took prednisone at around 6, can't tell if it has started to kick in yet.

    The fever has me worried. Am I over-reacting to it?

  6. I always thought it came along as a shortened version of "sicker than a junkyard dog" which of course is a dog with rabies...who is very very sick. I have no evidence to back that up. Just my skewed logic lol.
    Sorry you are so sick. I have pink eye in both eyes, but you have me beat, hands down. Hope you feel better soon.


  7. I'm impressed you still have the motivation to blog...I think I would just be lying on the couch staring at the TV...begging to sleep.

    I read once that fevers up to 104 are still within the "not going to kill you" range. After that...time to go see your friends at the ER.

    But...your wife is a nurse so she probably knows the "health secrets" I don't.

  8. Most biologists agree that life as we know it is the end product of a series of mutations. Sounds like your body is just compressing evolution into weeks instead of tens of thousands of years. It only remains to see if you're mutating, or merely an incubator... you know like John Hurt in Alien. Though given your luck you'll end up being the Mel Brooks version... Get better soon, you nut


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